An inspirational brother and sister who helped save the Lake District Calvert Trust from closure have been honoured at BBC Cumbria’s Make a Difference Awards.
When specialist outdoor activity centre the Lake District Calvert Trust announced it may not reopen after losing £1million over the lockdown, 14-year-old Oliver Voysey, supported by his 11-year-old-sister Elizabeth, mum Sarah and dad Gary decided to do something about it.
Oliver, who has four limb cerebral palsy, is registered blind and suffers from epilepsy, was determined nothing would stop him from saving the centre that has become a lifeline for him and other youngsters.
The heroic teenager raised more than £250,000 by completing a series of challenges that pushed him to his limits.
Thousands of people from all over the world supported his crusade – known as Oliver’s Calvert Army – to stop the charity from closing. Oliver appeared on ITV’s This Morning with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby and also gained the support and admiration of celebrities including Ant & Dec, Alan Shearer and Steve Backshall.
The family’s efforts have now been recognised at BBC Cumbria’s Make a Difference Awards with Oliver winning the Fundraiser of the Year Award and Elizabeth being Highly Commended in the Carer of the Year category.
Oliver suffered a catastrophic brain injury when he was just two days old. A breathing issue caused him to lose so much brain tissue that he wasn’t expecting to survive, but he defied all odds – and has continued to do so ever since.
Oliver, who also has learning difficulties and autism, started attending The Lake District Calvert Trust in 2017 where he enjoyed rock climbing, abseiling and canoeing.
Mum Sarah, an environment agency worker said: “The world is not built for people in a wheelchair – but at the Calvert Trust, Oliver’s disabilities melt away and he can scramble up a rockface alongside his sister, or go canoeing with me and his dad.
“If the centre had shut down, Oliver’s haven, somewhere he feels the same as everyone else, would have gone.”
Sarah said: “When Oliver was a baby, doctors told us that he wouldn’t be able to do anything.
“But it was only by using his disabilities that Oliver was able to raise such an extraordinary amount of money – supported by Elizabeth every step of the way. We are so proud of them both.”
With Oliver also shortlisted for the Young Hero accolade at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards on 27 November 2022, Sarah is now urging Oliver’s Army to “start marching again”.
“Every day is a challenge for Oliver but he is so determined to keep supporting the Lake District Calvert Trust. Despite some serious health setbacks, Oliver is well on the way to completing the Calvert 4by4 Extreme Challenge which involves taking on four challenging local walks.
“We are urging everyone in Oliver’s Calvert Army to start marching again by completing their own personal challenge. It is an incredibly difficult time for charities right now. They need all the support they can get.”
Jennifer Scott, Fundraising Manager at the Lake District Calvert Trust said:
“This award recognition is very well deserved.
“Together with the support of his parents and sister, Oliver really created a turning point for the Lake District Calvert Trust in its darkest hour. Thanks to these amazing achievements and the awareness that Oliver shone on our charity, a further 3,000 people took up the call to join Oliver’s Calvert Army and helped secure our immediate future.”
Looking to the future, Jennifer added:
“This is the third consecutive year our fee income has been drastically impacted by the Covid pandemic and the Trust has lost over £2 million in fee income as a result. The cost-of-living crisis is also affecting both us and our beneficiaries. It would be fantastic to see Oliver’s Army on the march again. Everyone’s support is hugely appreciated – and needed – moving forward.”
Oliver’s fundraising page can be accessed here: